Monthly Archives: March 2007

Mark-all-as-read hotkey for Liferea

The following patch adds a Control-L hotkey to Liferea, for marking all feeds as read:

Firstly for version 1.0.27:

Secondly, for version 1.2.7:

Both versions apply cleanly to the Liferea source packages in Debian etch/sid and experimental, respectively

New media laws start on April 4th.

Governments always like to make potentially unpopular announcements when the media is preoccupied with other events; today, in the shadow of the boat crash on Sydney Harbour, the federal government has managed to sneak an announcement about the assention of their new media laws out, with barely anyone noticing at all.

There is certainly a risk in doing this now; prior to passing the legislation in the Senate last year, John Howard and Senator Helen Coonan swore black and blue that the new laws wouldn’t cause a rush of media mergers and then were left with egg on their faces when it happened within weeks. A sudden merger of media in Australia is not a good look in the run-up to the election; perhaps the government is counting on a buyout of Fairfax by a conservative leaning proprietor

So, expect Australia’s already dismal media to get even worse; where we have around ten or eleven independent commercial outlets in Melbourne and Sydney, this will now be able to drop to five. Expect newspapers to end up in the hands of TV stations, dumbing-down and endless cross-promotion.

School bans Myspace … at home

While I don’t exactly understand the point of Myspace, this is just stupid:

St. Hugo of the Hills Catholic School students were informed recently that under a new school policy, Think First, Stay Safe, the use of will be prohibited at school and at home.”

It’s bad enough that certain employers are starting to tell employees what they can and can’t do at home, but schools?

What planet is Senator Ron Boswell on?

You’d think a National Party senator would be aware of how bad internet access is in regional areas in Australia. My parents live only 30 minutes away from an ADSL-enabled area, but have no access to it themselves. The phone lines are terrible for dialup net access, and cause regular drop-offs, which forced them onto satellite broadband, which is about as close to being broadband as a dirt track is to being a freeway. And they really do need good internet access, in order to work. This situation is repeated all over the country.

But no, Senator Ron Boswell, from Queensland, has said “We’ve got adequate broadband out there”, in response to the Labor party plan to build a country-wide high-speed network, using money from the so-called Future Fund.

The Liberals and some Nationals, of course, believe that government should have nothing to do with infrastructure and that the free market will provide what’s required. Of course, if this were the case, then we’d already have high-speed internet access to the home across the country – but we don’t, and we’re lagging well behind. When I left Amsterdam two years ago, the company I was working for was already rolling out IPTV across the Netherlands.

In reality, high-speed internet – and particularly IPTV – threatens the Coalition’s best friend – the Australian commercial TV industry, which is one of the most profitable TV industries in the world, due to the government’s considerable protection through licence rationing. Our capital cities, especially Melbourne and Sydney, are easily big enough to support a fourth and fifth commercial station, yet the government – despite its free market rhetoric – artificially keeps the number of licences at three.

I suggest anyone in the country whose modem has just dropped off the line yet again give Ron a call and congratulate him on the wonderful network that his government has provided.

Update: Apparently Senator Boswell was misquoted. Thanks to Paul Leven from the Senator’s office for this information.

Ballarat Linux Conference Photos

Some photos from the Ballarat Linux Conference. Russell and Donna have good posts on the conference.

Ballarat Linux Conference

First picture:


Off to Ballarat, for the Ballarat Linux Conference.

Sydney Train Debacle

It’s not surprising to see that Sydney has had another bad episode on the trains. Anyone from Melbourne who has travelled on public transport in Sydney knows just how terrible it is – from incredibly infrequent trains, to vast areas of the inner city with nothing but bus transport. When I was in Sydney last year, scoping out places to live, I sat waiting at Newtown station for about 40 minutes – on a Saturday morning. Even the least frequent railway lines in Melbourne aren’t anywhere near that bad, when the trains work.

This debacle is, however, quite well timed, given that there is a NSW state election being held in just over a week’s time. Voters will have no-one except themselves to blame if they limit their choices to the current Labor government who have done nothing for public transport over their previous three terms and the Liberal opposition who seem more interested in stacking themselves with fundamentalist Christians, than attempting to solve commuters’ problems.

As we’ve seen in Victoria, the major parties simply aren’t interested in providing frequent, efficient public transport. If the voters of NSW don’t opt for one of the alternatives, then they can expect to follow Victoria into another four years of clogged roads and faulty trains.

Airports of the world

Drew, on his inaugural tour of Japan and Europe, presents the second in his line of travel documentaries, this time, on airports.

Killing Usenet trolls

I’m still quite a heavy user of Usenet, despite the influx of spammers and its constantly predicted death. One of the bigger problems these days, however, isn’t so much spammers as trolls and off-topic posters – typically school children (please, parents, confine your children to Myspace).

Spammers, at least, tend to post over a wide range of groups and hence can be killed off in one hit – and nobody tends to reply to their posts. Trolls, on the other hand, usually get a number of replies, which creates huge threads that hide legitimate topics. Worse are the off-topic political posters, who post to a number of only vaguely-related groups at the same time.

You can’t simply kill-file the original poster, because many other people reply, often even misguided regular posters. Kill-filing the whole thread on Subject header is also futile, because the trolls will soon start a new topic.

The best way I’ve found to handle these situations is to automatically kill threads started by known trolls. Unfortunately, no newsreader that I’ve seen seems to handle this situation, so I’ve written a script to take care of it for me. It’s a little situation specific, however – it relies on having a local spool (I use leafnode to suck down articles from remote news servers) and using nn. It’s written in perl, so it shouldn’t be hard to modify it to talk remotely, and to use other newsreaders’ kill file formats.